Officials with the City of El Paso announced Friday that Texas Gas Service (TGS) customers located in the El Paso and the surrounding West Texas region may soon see what they called “significant increases” to their monthly bills to pay for the natural gas used during the February 2021 Winter Storm Uri, which hit Central and East Texas.
“As a result of an unprecedented increase in demand for natural gas during the storm, and the subsequent spike in natural gas prices, Texas gas utilities supplying consumers and businesses experienced significant cost impacts. In response, the Texas Legislature passed legislation (HB 1520) to allow gas utilities to recover costs associated with the storm by way of adding extra charges on customers’ bills,” city officials shared.
According to the city, TGS and 11 other gas utilities filed a joint application with the Railroad Commission of Texas that would allow TGS to recover costs associated with Winter Storm Uri which could result in an average monthly bill increase of approximately $4.33 per month or $52 per year for the next ten years.
At the direction of City Council, the City of El Paso has intervened in the proceeding and will represent the interests of the City and residents.
“As an intervenor, the City has filed testimony asserting that El Paso-based customers are effectively subsidizing costs incurred by gas utilities in other parts of Texas more severely impacted by Winter Storm Uri,” city officials shared via a news release Friday.
The State Legislature tasked the Railroad Commission of Texas with determining total costs recoverable to Texas gas utilities and the appropriate customer surcharge to ensure those costs are recovered within a reasonable timeframe.
In addition, the application proposes a uniform recovery surcharge for ratepayers across Texas. The proposal fails to recognize that TGS customers, including City of El Paso residents, experienced significantly lower costs than the costs experienced by customers of other gas utilities in Central and East Texas where the weather was most severe.
According to the City’s witness, David Garrett of Resolve Utility Consulting, Oklahoma City Oklahoma, “TGS customers across the State of Texas are being asked to pay over $500 million for TGS’ claimed costs of $256 million,” and further, “…even within the company’s service territory, West Texas customers, which include El Paso customers, are being asked to pay more than double the gas costs incurred to provide them service during that storm.”
According to City officials, a hearing has been scheduled before the Railroad Commission of Texas on November 2-3, 2021. El Paso residents are encouraged to contact TGS and the Commission to ask questions and voice their objections and concerns regarding the potential price hike and its disproportionate impact on El Paso customers.
Public comments will only be accepted in writing and must be submitted by Monday, November 1 —the day prior to the hearing—by mail or e-mail to:
Hearings Division (Docket OS-7061) | Attn: Sharon Koren | Railroad Commission of Texas
1701 N. Congress
Austin, Texas 78701